Sunderland school launches mental health project for pre-school children

l-r Maria Clarke, Place2Be, Christian Robson, headteacher, Helen Ellison, deputy headteacher and pupils from Southwick Community Primary School.
l-r Maria Clarke, Place2Be, Christian Robson, headteacher, Helen Ellison, deputy headteacher and pupils from Southwick Community Primary School.

A Sunderland primary school is taking the lead when it comes to mental health.

Southwick Community Primary School’s pioneering work to support the mental health needs of pupils and their parents has taken another step forward.

Southwick Community Primary School children with their Wellbeing in School award.

Southwick Community Primary School children with their Wellbeing in School award.

The school has launched a pilot scheme to support families with children who are about to start their first year there.

Southwick primary, which won a prestigious national Wellbeing in Schools Award for its work in mental health in 2016, is the first school to take part in the programme.

The ‘Getting Ready for School’ pilot, which was created by mental health charity, Place2Be, aims to provide emotional support for young children about to make the move from nursery into their first year at primary school.

Helen Ellison, deputy headteacher and mental health lead at Southwick Community Primary, said: “The pilot scheme we’re embarking on in the summer term aims to provide support and guidance to parents so they can help prepare their children emotionally for the start of the school year in September.

The importance of preparing a child emotionally for their very first experience of school can make all the difference to their education in the years ahead

Helen Ellison

“The importance of preparing a child emotionally for their very first experience of school can make all the difference to their education in the years ahead and we’re thrilled to be the first school to take part in this pilot programme.

“It is important to the school that we forge good relationships with our families and the wider community. We have to acknowledge that adults go through difficult times too, be it divorce or bereavement, and many of our parents use our services, coming to us for support and advice.”

Simon Marshall, director of education at Together for Children, which works on behalf of Sunderland City Council to deliver children’s services in the city, said: “The teachers and

support staff at Southwick Community Primary School continue to do a fantastic job at putting mental health awareness at the heart of the curriculum in a way that is accessible and supportive for children, their parents and staff alike, and the launch of this pilot scheme marks another step forward.

“It’s hugely important that through our education system we promote the message that it’s ok to talk about worries, concerns and our emotional wellbeing. Only by doing this will we take steps towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health that stops people getting the support that they need.”